Cultural nationalists dominant social, political force in India today: Ram Madhav

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Washington, Jul 10 (PTI) Observing that cultural nationalists are not only a dominant social force, but also a dominant political force in the country today, a senior RSS leader told an international gathering of conservatives on Tuesday that the left liberals in India have been cornered from all sides and are in deep distress.

"After we secured the absolute political mandate 10 years ago, we used this conservative consensus to take back everything that the Nehruvian liberals took away from us several decades ago," Ram Madhav said in his address to the National Conservatism conference being held here in the American capital.

"We ended socialist protectionism and promoted a free-market economy. Of course, in the last 20 years, I am not just saying 10 years. From the 11th position a decade ago, today, India is catapulted into the fifth or fourth-largest economy in the world.

"We reclaimed our universities and academic bodies. We took back the media space. And we recently launched a new education policy to rebuild our academic curriculum to teach conservative values to our future generations, something that most of you are worried about in your countries," Madhav said at the conference that has attracted conservatives from across the world.

"Friends, it is no longer fashionable to call oneself a liberal or a socialist or a secular in India anymore. It is no longer fashionable.... (In India today,) it is cool to be a Hindu. It is cool to be a Buddhist. It is cool to be a Jain. It is cool to be a person of religion. It is cool to be a conservative. It is cool to wear your religion and culture on your sleeves without any fear of anybody criticising you," the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader said in a fiery speech.

"The left liberals are cornered from all sides in our country today. They are in deep distress. They once controlled prestigious institutions like the Jawaharlal Nehru University for decades. But today, (they are) scrambling for a foothold in some corner of the country. If they do not find it, they are coming to your country, they are coming to your universities, they are coming to your media," he said.

Madhav urged conservatives in the United States and other parts of the world to take the writings about India that appear in mainstream American media with a pinch of salt.

"Please remember, the next time you find an article about India in one of these liberal media in your country -- the NYT, the WasPost -- talking about authoritarianism, oppressive atmosphere, democratic backsliding etc. etc., just laugh it off. It is the bellowing of these desperate left liberals," he said.

"Do not try to look at India from that prism. Because they tell you that we are Hitlerians, we are fascists. We are actually great admirers of the Jews and their national struggles. But we are portrayed as Hitlerians and fascists to you. But do you know that they portray you as racist, white supremacists and Christian fundamentalists to our people. So do not take them on face value," he told the conservatives.

Madhav said a liberal, socialist, secular, globalist ideology dominated India's ruling elite during the initial decades of its independence, championed by the first Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

"Our religiosity was at stake. Our cultural identity was at stake. Our national unity was at stake due to that Nehruvian socialist, secular ideology. But what we did was unique. We did not try to take head on at the political level alone. Instead, we built a strong, grassroots, popular conservative movement in India," he asserted.

"Through decades of hard work by organisations like the RSS, a strong grassroots movement of resistance to liberal globalism was nurtured in our country. It took some decades. But when an appropriate movement came 10 years ago in 2014, that social conservatism, nurtured for decades silently at the grassroots, was simply transformed into political conservatism," Madhav said.

"Cultural nationalists are not only a dominant social force, but also a dominant political force in India today, led by Narendra Modi's government," he said. PTI LKJ RC